New Zealand braces for storm after record floods

Two people walk along a flooded road in New Zealand

Parts of New Zealand’s North Island are still recovering from recent record flooding

In New Zealand, preparations are underway for a severe storm that threatens to hit parts of the country already damaged by deadly flooding.

Cyclone Gabrielle is expected to hit the country’s North Island beginning Saturday night, potentially bringing high winds and additional heavy rain.

Residents have been told to ensure they have enough supplies for three days in case they become trapped indoors.

The storm comes weeks after torrential rain inundated the city of Auckland.

Tens of thousands of sandbags have been distributed there over concerns that the soggy soil and weakened infrastructure have made homes more vulnerable to flooding.

Evacuation shelters were again set up and Air New Zealand, the national carrier, canceled several domestic flights before the cyclone hit.

Photographs and videos posted on social media showed long queues at supermarkets and bare shelves as people braced for more severe weather conditions.

Local media reported that New Zealand’s northernmost region, Northland, has already started experiencing high winds.

Cyclone Gabrielle was downgraded from a Category Three storm to a Category Two, meaning less destructive winds are now expected.

However, meteorologists have warned they could still be strong enough to damage trees and power lines, and enough rain could fall to cause more flooding and mudslides in the coming days.

The Coromandel Peninsula and the Tairāwhiti/Gisborne region, also affected by the recent torrential rains, have been placed under the most severe weather warning.

Residents in flood-prone areas have been told to prepare to evacuate.

“There is a degree of nervousness and anxiety surrounding this upcoming event,” Thames-Coromandel Borough Mayor Len Salt told news site Stuff.

“The people of the Coromandel are quite resilient, but the fact that we’ve been in this mode of dealing with storm events since the beginning of January… people are tired.”

Meanwhile, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology said conditions in remote Norfolk Island Territory had begun to deteriorate due to Cyclone Gabrielle.

The island, which lies north of New Zealand, has also been placed on red alert. Residents have been warned to stay indoors and find the most solid part of their houses under which to shelter.

Only three cyclones have passed within a 50 km (31 mi) radius of the island in the past 30 to 40 years.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *